CHR expects SolGen's 'faithful compliance' with SC order to release 'tokhang' papers

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 03 2019 03:57 PM

MANILA- The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Wednesday it is expecting the government's "faithful compliance" with the Supreme Court's order to release documents related to “Oplan Tokhang,” the controversial door-to-door knock-and-plead operations linked to deaths of drug suspects. 

The high tribunal earlier ordered the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to furnish petitioners copies of thousands of police documents in relation to the government’s war on drugs.

"We then urge the government to ensure that its policies will always safeguard the general welfare of people, and not only of a select few, in keeping with its obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of all. As such, we look forward to the government’s faithful compliance to the Supreme Court’s order,” lawyer Jacqueline Ann de Guia, spokesperson of the CHR, said in a statement.

The commission also reiterated its call to ensure that justice is served, especially to those who died in the campaign against illegal drugs.

“It is only through greater transparency that we can ascertain the truth behind the circumstances leading to these killings and possibly make every perpetrator accountable for their offenses against the right to life among others,” De Guia said.

Oplan Tokhang is the community-based program of the government against illegal drugs which began when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016.

Under Tokhang, drug suspects are primarily identified through the watch list submitted by the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council to police. Authorities then validate the list with their own.

Two petitions are currently pending in the high court questioning the constitutionality of the government’s war on drugs.

The petition filed by Aileen Almora, Rowena Aparri, and Jefferson Soriano and represented by the Free Legal Assistance Group urged the high court to strike down as unconstitutional Philippine National Police (PNP) Command Memorandum Circular (CMC) No. 16 – 2016 for Oplan Double Barrel, the police’s anti-drug campaign, and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular 2017-112, which put up a system of anonymous reporting for offenses involving illegal drugs, criminality, and corruption.

The second petition, filed by Ma. Juanita Daño and represented by the Center for International Law, urged the high court to bar the Manila Police District Station 6 “from conducting any anti-illegal drugs or anti-criminal operations in San Andres Bukid without the required coordination and presence of representatives from the barangay, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the media, and such other persons required to be notified or having the authority to be present at and observe such operations.”

Daño, et al. pointed out 35 “drug-related deaths in the area” spanning 13 months.

Government has defended the death of drug suspects in police anti-drug operations, saying they had resisted arrest, prompting officers to defend themselves.